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Biden order seeks to speed up airport security lines, make services more accessible

Order also seeks to get better outreach from Medicare to retirees

An executive order signed Monday could help speed up the lines at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.
An executive order signed Monday could help speed up the lines at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Monday that aims to make a slew of government services easier to access and more efficient, from airport security screening and passport renewals to Social Security benefits processing.

“You’ll see better technology to speed the security lines and wait times at our national airports, make filing and refunds with the IRS more rapid,” the president told reporters Monday in the Oval Office. “And for disaster aid, which I was talking a little bit earlier today about, and to student loans — the list goes on. The bottom line is we’re going to make the government work more effectively for the American citizens so it’s not as confusing.”

The executive order previewed by the White House ahead of the signing will seek to streamline “more than 30 specific agency actions,” according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and other administration officials. That includes a new effort to allow retirees signing up for benefits from Social Security to have proactive outreach from Medicare as part of that process.

Neera Tanden, a senior adviser to the president, highlighted several of the provisions.

“We’ve looked at the points of greatest friction for people with their government: filing taxes, applying for Social Security benefits, waiting in TSA lines and focused on ways to reduce that friction,” Tanden said.

Speaking specifically about the Transportation Security Administration and efforts to improve security lines at the airport, Tanden cited expanding the use of biometric and other tools to help agents process travelers.

“What we’re talking about here are particular technologies that can speed the process along,” she said.

“Every interaction between the Federal Government and the public, whether it involves renewing a passport or calling for a status update on a farm loan application, should be seen as an opportunity for the Government to save an individual’s time (and thus reduce “time taxes”) and to deliver the level of service that the public expects and deserves,” the order says. “By demonstrating that its processes are effective and efficient, in addition to being fair, protective of privacy interests, and transparent, the Federal Government can build public trust.”

For the departments and agencies tasked with implementation, some of the most important work may be about informing Americans about benefits to which they are already entitled.

“A lot of what happens with the public is that, you know, they’re really just not aware of services that their federal government has available for them,” Tanden said. “And that is a key component of this executive order, which is that you can go through one door and that door will let you know about other services that can help you in the need that you have.”

The responsibility for setting up that “federal front door” will largely fall to the General Services Administration, which already operates the Login.gov sign-on system.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is undertaking an all-hands-on-deck effort to make government services simpler and more secure, and as the home of governmentwide shared services, GSA has a leading role to play,” GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan said in a statement. “For years, GSA has pioneered innovative solutions, like login.gov and USA.gov, that make it easier for the American public to interact with the government online, and today’s Executive Order will build on these efforts.”

While some of the improvements can be made through existing funding channels and executive branch authorities, there will surely be a role for Congress in implementation, a point that House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., said in her statement highlighting support for Biden’s executive order.

“Making sure the government has the right tools, a strong workforce, and proper accountability in delivering critical services is at the core of the work of our Committee,” Maloney said. “I look forward to partnering with the Administration to implement this innovative plan.”

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